Kids are going to a kindergarten to prepare for school that is, for most of us, a given. That is not taken for granted in Malawi. Today we visited a community-based childcare centre (CBCC) in Blantyre. This is provided by the government, but it lacks necessary food and early childhood support. Therefore UNICEF provides the training for the caregivers. Most of them are mothers from the nearby community, also some men join the team. They learn how to prepare children for primary school with interactive play-based education methods. The caregivers learn also how to deal with the different needs of the kids.
Children in Africa often don’t have the chance to be just kids and play around. They have to support their families with the daily work: helping with farming or looking after younger siblings. Their support secures their family’s living. Therefore many children do not visit the CBCC. To encourage their visit, UNICEF offers a warm meal based on nutritious porridge. This is an important advantage for parents: at least one warm meal for their kids in a day.
After an overwhelming welcome of singing, dancing and clapping caregivers we talked to the people who enable a secure and safe surrounding for children. In 2008, everything started under a mango tree said Solomon, the local chief. Now he proudly presents the new house with three clean and dry rooms.
Six caregivers look after 80 kids aged between three and six years. Here they can play and learn from 7:30 am till 11 am. We experienced how the mothers help the children to learn counting or the alphabet by singing songs. We brought some finger puppets with us which were immediately used during the session. It was amazing to be in the middle of everything and to see how enthusiastic the women are in working for the education and early development of the kids.
It was an amazing and unique experience. Everyone is so proud about the work they do. At the same time they are grateful for the support they get through our donation. Solomon, the local chief, said: “Now when you come to visit us I know that many people care about our work, although I can’t see all the details. I am very grateful for that.”
Here in Blantyre the children now have the opportunity to be just kids for three hours per day.